The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mizoram double mission to Dhaka

Silchar, Dec. 10: Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga will land in Dhaka tomorrow to formalise a proposal for bringing back the remains of his former Mizo National Front (MNF) “comrades”. They had died in the neighbouring country in exile in the early seventies.

Sources said Zoramthanga — who is the Centre’s interlocutor in the ongoing peace parleys with the NSCN(I-M) — may also use the visit to establish links with Northeast militant outfits, especially the Ulfa and the NDFB, to bring them to the negotiation table.

Top leaders of the both the banned outfits are known to be based in Bangladesh and the Mizoram chief minister is likely to send “feelers” to them through emissaries. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had said that he had no objection to Zoramthanga acting as a mediator between the Centre and militants.

Zoramthanga’s visit comes in the wake of New Delhi’s accusation that Dhaka was sheltering militant outfits of the Northeast. Dhaka has refuted the allegations and sought “credible evidence” from India.

Official sources in Aizawl told The Telegraph today that Zoramthanga would hold discussions with political leaders and officials in Dhaka over an earlier proposal to dig up the remains of MNF rebels and bring them back for a state burial in the capital.

The MNF, the ruling party in Mizoram, has identified 30 of its former members who had died in that country, mostly in hideouts in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. It wants the remains to be transferred to cemeteries in Mizoram.

Thousands of MNF guerrillas, fighting under the leadership of Laldenga, had fled to the Chittagong Hill Tracts after the Centre banned the MNF in 1967. Mizoram shares a 404-km-long border with Bangladesh.

The MNF received a jolt after its training bases had to be wound up in East Pakistan following the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. The top leadership, including Zoramthanga, managed to reach Pakistan and it was not until 1979 that the outfit once again gained a foothold in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Mizoram became a full-fledged state on February 20, 1987 after Laldenga signed the Mizo Accord with the Centre during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure as Prime Minister.

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